(15) Running time: 93 minutes
Director: Joseph Kahn
Writers: Joseph Kahn, Mark Palermo
Cast: Shanley Caswell, Josh Hutcherson, Spencer Locke, Parker Bagley
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
I have been waiting ages to see this, and the wait was most definitely worth it. Music video director Joseph Kahn makes his second feature length film after 2004’s Torque, and he chose the horror genre for his latest effort, and on the strength of Detention, long may he continue making horror. Detention is a blend of cleverly written horror and perfectly timed comedy, and delivers a real tour de force of a movie that rarely gives the viewer the chance to catch their breath. The plot moves along a breakneck pace as the laughs come thick, fast and often totally unexpected as the high school horror flick is given a complete makeover.
Detention’s main focus is that of a serial killer offing students much in the vein of Scream, but that is the only resemblance as there is far more going on here than just a simple slasher movie. We get the familiar story of a young girl unable to fit in, we get a truly bizarre killer who is rather clumsy and a bit, well, lucky in his/ hers kills, we get the resident bully who’s blood is made out of flies blood (!!!), there is romance, sex talk, drunken parties, suicide, sexual goings on with the school mascot, vegetarian talk and even freakin time travel. Oh, and yes there is a detention too! This film packs more into ninety minutes than most horror franchises do in three or four films, and while all those ingredients might make your head spin, they are delivered with so much fun and sure of itself witty remarks, you will find yourself simply going along with it.
It is difficult to talk much about the films plot as I would hate to spoil things, but put simply a killer is going around picking off certain targets. We meet the killer, and are welcomed into Kahn’s crazy world, in the opening scene. In a true to form hint at what is to come, a young, sexy student is boiling with anger at her life and reads off a list of do’s and don’ts. Hilariously the list appears on screen like a text message, and as the poor girl is murdered, her rules continue to roll as if nothing has happened. We soon meet the main characters: Shanley Caswell is ultra sexy as Riley Jones (who has a broken leg), Josh Hutcherson is hilarious as Clapton Davis, the target of a bully who’s blood is made out of flies blood Billy Nolan (Parker Bagley), and Spencer Locke is the sexy love interest of both Nolan and Davis. The entire cast do a terrific job at playing totally likeable, desperate to be cool kind of douchbags, and it is very hard dislike any of them. Each has his or hers own unique characteristics which bounce off each other, and create comedy with ease.
There is lots of sexy girls, a fair amount of well crafted violence, and the laughs are pretty much none-stop. There is an energy to Detention which just might make your head spin as you are bombarded with jokes, slapstick humour, information and plot twists at every turn. Blink and you’ll miss them moments of comedy gold are blended with a genuine sense of panic over who the killer is. Many genre films are recognised and referenced, and it is always nice to see a film which is happy and proud to stand by what it is. Yes we all enjoy the scary, serious and vicious horrors, but every once in a while it is pleasant to see something which is all about fun and not taking itself too seriously. I couldn’t imagine a better film suited for a Friday night in with beer and pizza. Yes Detention might feel a little too teenagery, or a little too slapstick in places, but this is funnier than the entire Scary Movie series put together, and just as much fun as films like Scream. Detention has heart, passion and an all round sense of stupidness which it wears proudly on its sleeve. In fact, scratch below the surface, and you know what, Detention is probably a lot cleverer than it realises.